In Luke 12:35-48, Jesus commands that his disciples be ready for his return. He is soon to return to his Father, and they are to wait expectantly for him to come back. An expectant readiness means being “dressed for action” and “keep[ing] your lamps burning.”
Always Ready to Move
To be “dressed for action” in the first century meant pulling up your long robe and tucking it into your belt, freeing your legs to run. Keeping your lamps lit required preparation in a day when there was no electricity, bic lighters or even matches. So what Jesus is calling for is a prepared and expectant waiting.
A man dressed for action is ready to move. The entire chapter has been about not being tied to this age, but living in the light of the coming age, with its new heavens and new earth. Being concerned with our own reputations, our own comfort or our own security are things hinder your ability to follow the Spirit’s leading. A man tied to his career or his mortgage is going to have a hard time listening and obeying if the Spirit should prompt him to move his family to China to share the gospel.And a man who keeps his lamp burning is making his readiness a primary concern. A man could not wait until it got dark to get his lamp burning. He had to take action earlier in the day. Likewise, now is the time we are to work to ensure that we are not embarrassed by the master coming.
What Readiness Looks Like
If an employer walks in on an employee who is doing nothing, he is not pleased. But neither will he be pleased if the employee is very ‘busy’ playing games on the internet. The employee must be doing his job. The church has been given a very specific job description. We are to be an expanding community of faith and love. That is, we are to love others, even at great personal cost, trusting God to meet our needs. Our faith is to remind us that no cost is too great, since nothing that is valuable in this age carries its value into the next. And our faith is to remind us that we cannot possibly out-give God. Even if we parted with all our possessions, God would still feed us and clothe us, even as he does the flowers and the birds. So the church is to be a community of faith and love. But it is to be an expanding community of faith and love. The church has been commissioned to make disciples of all nations, teaching them this faith and love. So the church is to be sharing the gospel, at home and abroad. If it is not … If you are not … can you really say you are ready?
To Whom Much is Given …
Jesus expects great things from those who have been given great gifts. If you know Jesus as your Savior and Lord, then you have been given forgiveness, righteousness, adoption, an inheritance, hope, etc. And these gifts were costly. The eternal Son of God impoverished himself to give them to you. What he asks is that you live in anticipation of his return, forsaking your allegiance to this age and its trappings, living with your possessions held in an open hand, having the gospel ever on your tongue, and wholly focussed on bringing glory to the One who loved you while you were an enemy.
Even as the Lord came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many, so when he returns, he will, himself, wait on those who are living in faithful anticipation of his return. The Lord will serve the servants yet again, and usher them into unimaginable blessings.
But the Lord will come suddenly. You will not be able to anticipate his coming. You won’t be able to pull off a last-minute straightening up of your life. You must dress for action and keep your lamps burning now. Will you be ready?